Seán O’Casey

Seán Ó Cathasaigh

1880 (Dublin) – 1964 (Torquay, England)

O’Casey is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest dramatist. Shaw, a friend, admired him. He and Yeats had an ambivalent relationship, each needing the other, O’Casey’s relationship with Yeats’ Abbey Theatre starting very fruitfully, but ending messily, and contributing to O’Casey’s move to England. Yeats did however regard him as a genius. Beckett and he were mutual admirers, and corresponded without meeting; Joyce, O’Faolain and Kavanagh were also correspondents, and O’Neill (like Anderson, met in the U.S.) a friend. Hitchcock enthused about a script of O’Casey’s over dinner, but never contacted him again.

Seán O'Casey knew…

Henrik Ibsen

Henryk Ibsen

1828 (Skien, Norway) – 1906 (Christiania, now Oslo)

Bjørnson and Ibsen met as aspiring writers; though Bjørnson became a generous supporter, their friendship later foundered, only reviving when Ibsen’s son married Bjørnson’s daughter. Joyce, a fan, wrote to him in Norwegian (Ibsen had no English). Grieg was met in Rome, and though Ibsen invited him much later to write the music that made his name, their natural affinity was always overshadowed by Ibsen’s outward coldness. Anderson, meanwhile, liked him, but not his work. Strindberg and Ibsen never met, but pursued an extraordinary feud, Ibsen keeping a portrait of his enemy in his study to spur himself on.

Henrik Ibsen knew…

William Wycherley

c.1640 (Wem, England) – 1716 (London)

Wycherley was a popular (if not great) poet and playwright, a wit and a rake: one of the literary characters of his age. He turned down an approach from Dryden to collaborate on writing a comedy, was a close friend of Locke, and encouraged the young Pope as a writer. Pope helped the elderly Wycherley revise his poems for publication (it’s sometimes alleged that Pope rewrote more than he should have). This friendship, starting when Pope was sixteen, was conducted entirely by letter, and eventually cooled, probably as a result of an essay Pope published.

William Wycherley knew…

Samuel Beckett

1906 (Dublin) – 1989 (Paris)

Beckett assisted Joyce (a strong influence) on ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ but distanced himself following Joyce’s daughter’s infatuation; Joyce also introduced him to Pound. He met Duchamp and Giacometti at the same time, and encountered Stravinsky on a voyage to Amsterdam. His publisher Calder played chess and billiards with him in Paris bars. Bion was Beckett’s psychoanalyst, de Beauvoir at one point his landlady. He bought a painting on credit from his friend Yeats, hid at Sarraute’s during a resistance roundup, and bailed Behan out of prison. He corresponded admiringly with O’Casey, despite never meeting, but his letter to Eisenstein never arrived

Friedrich Schiller

1759 (Marbach, Germany) – 1805 (Weimar)

Schiller met Moritz, Hiller and Weisse as a student. Reinhart became a lifelong friend. He befriended Herder and Wieland while in Weimar, hoping to meet Goethe (who was in fact in Italy). The strength of the intellectual and creative bond with Goethe (whom he eventually got to know after years of tentative approaches) is reflected in their paired tombs. Schlegel, Fichte, Herder, both Humboldts and Hölderlin all contributed to his periodical ‘die Horen’, though Schlegel and he eventually fell out with one another, and Herder disliked him. Schelling, Niethammer and Fichte had all been university colleagues in Jena.